TIP: Use Desktop, Not Mobile to Buy Delta Gift Cards for Platinum Credit


Are you scrambling to spend all your incidental travel fee credit for your Amex Platinum before the year ends? Is Delta your designated airline? Then be careful how you buy Delta gift cards. Gift cards bought through the mobile version of Delta’s site are coding as actual gift cards, and therefore aren’t being reimbursed by Amex. Gift cards bought through the desktop site are, thankfully, not coding as obvious gift cards and are generally being reimbursed by Amex.

A Little Background

About a month ago I wrote about maximizing the airline credits of your premium credit cards (think Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, Amex Platinum, and Chase Ritz card) before your December statement closes/before the end of the year, depending on which card you have and when your statement closes. It’s those credits more than any other annual benefit that make paying large annual fees worth it for those of us that travel often, since for us travel credit is basically like cash.

It’s a shame to see people forget and flush money down the toilet.

The Platinum Card from American Express’ travel credit is a little different than most premium credit cards. Not all travel expenses will trigger the credit, as is the case with the Sapphire Reserve and pretty much the case with the Citi Prestige.

How the Amex Platinum Card’s Travel Credit Works

Amex Platinum Cardholders get $200 in statement credits for incidental fees with your designated qualifying airline every calendar year. 

This person needs to spend their Amex travel credit asap!
This person needs to spend their Amex travel credit asap!

The airline fee credit is supposed to be for “incidental fees” likes change fees, cancellation fees, and bag fees. The fee credit is not supposed to apply to ticket purchases, miles purchases, or gift card purchases.

highlighted terms and conditions

But American Express’s computers decides whether a certain purchase qualifies for a fee credit, and in the experience of thousands of people, certain airline gift card purchases will result in a statement credit. That makes this benefit like getting $200 in free flights…or $400 if it’s your first year of card membership and/or you time the downgrade or cancellation right for the following year. There is a FlyerTalk thread devoted to each airline that you can select for fee reimbursement for people to post their experiences trying to purchase gift cards.

*The News About Delta Gift Cards

If you check out what’s being talked about on the Delta thread, you’ll see that it’s recently come to light that only gift cards purchased through the desktop version of Delta’s site, NOT the mobile version of the site, are triggering the incidental travel fee credit.

This is what the desktop site looks like.
This is what the desktop site looks like.

This is because gift cards purchased through the desktop site are issued by Delta Gift Cards, Inc. which is coding as “Delta Airlines” as far as Amex is concerned. Purchases on the mobile site are coding as Delta Airlines GC as they are processed by a company called CashStar. That’s what you don’t want to happen.

This is what the mobile site looks like. Don't buy Delta gift cards here!
This is what the mobile site looks like. Don’t buy Delta gift cards here!

You’ll also want to buy Delta gift cards in increments of $50 or less for a better chance of triggering the credit, according to Doctor of Credit.

Choosing Your Designated Airline for 2018’s Incidental Travel Fee Credit

The time window to change your designated airline for a new year is January of the new year. If you don’t want the same designated airline for 2018 that you had in 2017, then make sure to change it by January 31.

Otherwise you’ll be stuck with the same airline as 2017, without the option to change it again until January of 2019.

You can select your designated airline online or call the number on the back of your Platinum card to do so.

Bottom Line

Don’t buy gift cards through Delta’s mobile site if your goal is to have them reimbursed by American Express. Recent data points on Flyertalk show that the mobile version of Delta’s site processes gift card payments outside of Delta through an entity called CashStar, and Amex isn’t reimbursing Platinum cardholders as it’s obvious the charges are for gift cards (and gift cards are excluded in the terms of the Platinum as counting as an incidental travel expense).

Purchase Delta gift cards, in increments of $50 or less, on the desktop version of Delta’s site. These have been coding as Delta purchases are typically reimbursed by Delta.

Hat tip Doctor of Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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  1. Good advice. Thanks.
    As an FYI, Delta only allows 3 forms of payment when purchasing a ticket, so you most likely will only get $100 (not $150) off the cost of a ticket. If you are buying another ticket for a travel companion, do it in 2 transactions.

    • Working on changing a few things–want a cleaner, simpler look. You can expect a new logo and blog theme soon.

  2. Does the desk Delta GC purchase work for the $50 Amex Delta Business card statement credit? I don’t want to poke the bear and bring out the rat team for a $50 GC credit.

    • As far as I know buying a gift card (through desktop, not mobile) should work fine for triggering the statement credit on the Amex Delta Gold cards. I’ve read data point on reddit of it working for others.

  3. Sarah,
    do you know of any workaround for the fact that United’s Travelbank does not accept gifts until sometime in 2018?

    Thanks very much,

  4. If I use a desktop to buy a $50 Delta gift card can I use it with a points booking to pay taxes/ fees on the booking ?

    • In the terms & conditions of Delta gift cards, it says… “eGifts and Cards may only be used for the total purchase price of air transportation, including taxes, fees, and surcharges imposed on the air transportation. They may not be used for any additional fees (including baggage fees) or for any other products or services (including class upgrades, in-flight purchases, premium seating, mileage booster, SkyMiles Cruises, cargo, hotel stays, or car rentals).”

      So it doesn’t outright say you can or can’t as it doesn’t mention award bookings. I imagine it probably depends on the agent you get and how long you’re willing to fight for it over the phone. This is also what I’ve seen reported on Flyertalk–just depends. It’s definitely easier to just redeem on a revenue ticket.

  5. I did this yesterday on my desktop with individual $50 purchases, just to be sure. It shows as Delta Airlines in my AMEX account. Once it goes from pending to balance due I will see if AMEX will cover these.

    • The Delta Airline charges posted to my account today. I did the Chat thing with AMEX and he said they should be all be credited to my account in 2-3 weeks without me doing anything else.


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